Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
February 23, 2009
Martyrs offer inspiration for Christians today, says Jesuit leader
BY CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE
SAN FRANCISCO — Christians could live better in the present by modeling their lives on the lives of the Church’s martyrs, the superior general of the Jesuits told a congregation in San Francisco.
At the root of martyrdom is the Christian tradition of bearing witness, said Father Adolfo Nicolas in his homily during Mass Feb. 4 at St. Ignatius Church on the campus of the University of San Francisco.
He was at the Jesuit-run university as part of his Jan. 30-Feb. 7 visit to the Jesuits’ California province.
In his homily to a packed St. Ignatius Church on the feast day of the Jesuit martyrs of the missions, Nicolas said martyrdom itself is not something to be sought, but the lives of martyrs can provide inspiration.
Martyrdom is a fact of life in today’s Church, he said, alluding to laypeople and clergy alike who have sacrificed for their Christian faith.
He said modeling one’s life and actions on the sacrifices of martyrs requires three things: vision to take a more encompassing view; commitment to pursue faith even to the end; and love of the most needy in society as well as love for the pursuit of justice.
“Christianity is not about fanaticism; it is not about being unreasonable or being masochistic or wanting to suffer,” Nicolas said.
“Christianity is about life and love and (giving), and only then does it make sense.”
At an afternoon press conference, he addressed a number of issues, including the role of Jesuit higher education in today’s world.
A Jesuit university is a place where students can think, learn and grow, whether that’s in class, in a chapel or in the community at large, he said.
“We need to give what St. Ignatius gave,” Nicolas said. “Ignatius gave heart to the whole process of learning and serving.”
The Spanish-born Nicolas was elected superior general in January 2008.
Italian Jesuits first came to California from Oregon during the 1849 gold rush. In 1909, the California province was separated from Italy’s Turin province.
Soon, the California province developed a distinct American identity and mission geared toward the needs of people living in the western United States.
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